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Skipton to Harrogate bus service is axed
The only bus service between Skipton and Harrogate has been axed – two years after a teenager launched a campaign to save it.
In March, 2011, 17-year-old Catherine Walker, from Sutton-in-Craven, campaigned unsuccessfully to stop the A59 Transdev bus service from being scaled down.
The route, which had been subsidised by central government and then by North Yorkshire County Council, was reduced from running five times a day to just two return journeys.
At the time, Miss Walker, a Craven College student, complained it was the only way she could get to see her boyfriend, who lived in Harrogate, and she needed to get to the town as part of her gold Duke of Edinburgh award.
She lobbied councillors, Craven Youth Council and even Skipton MP, Julian Smith, who used it to highlight the problems with rural transport in the House of Commons.
But, from March 15, the service will stop completely after it struggled to break even.
Nigel Eggleton, operations director with Transdev, said it had been a sad decision, but he did not rule out it returning if funding became available again in the future.
The X59 was the only bus service to travel directly between Skipton and Harrogate on the A59. It was subsidised by central government with a five-year rural transport grant from 2002, and then for a further three years from North Yorkshire County Council.
Mr Eggleton said when funding first ran out, the company did look at ways of continuing the service, including reducing the number of journeys and using a spare vehicle. But even then, it was still only making 40 per cent of the revenue needed to run it.
“Regrettably, we had to say enough is enough. It is such a shame, because we did like running the service, but for the last two years, the service has barely broken even,” he said.
Mr Eggleton added the service was similar to others around the country in that although at times it carried a lot of passengers, they were often senior citizens on fares reimbursed by the council, which was less than normal fare paying passengers.
County councillor Polly English, who lobbied for the service to be retained, said its loss would be a blow for those who would now have no option but to drive or catch the train.